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Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Oswalt a big help to pitching ranks


In a season full of injury and more bad news than good, as least Roy Oswalt has decided to join the fray. He gives us an option to replace the losses of Roy Halladay (shoulder), Jered Weaver (back), Jaime Garcia (elbow), Doug Fister (side) and Ted Lilly (shoulder).

That is a month's worth of injuries in a matter of days. Fantasy baseball has become a battle of attrition. Jumping on Oswalt is a means of surviving right now.

For the Rangers, it is the rich get richer with the addition of free agent Oswalt to their rotation. It gives what might have been a marginal fantasy option enough value to be owned in all fantasy leagues. And that is even before the four starts, roughly three-and-a-half weeks, it will take to get him to debut in the majors -- barring setbacks.

And, in this season, we probably should expect one.

Perhaps the only saving grace for a quick arrival to our lineups, is Oswalt isn't going straight from the couch to a minor-league assignment.

"For the last six weeks I've been throwing bullpens every other day; I wanted to make sure I had plenty of throwing in before I stepped out on the field," the veteran right-hander said Wednesday. "My arm feels great. My body feels great."

We should expect him to be great for us in fantasy. After all, the Rangers have that top-notch contender getting him all those runs and potential wins.

When pitchers are breaking down, particularly those young ones on your fantasy roster, Oswalt is going to be just peaking ... pitching for the best team in baseball in a division that can hardly muster a challenge offensively.

"You get a guy almost midseason that comes in pretty fresh, that could be a pretty good boost," Rangers pitching coach Greg Maddux said. "You go through those dog days in August, it will be like his May, so he should be pretty fresh the rest of the season."

It is about as perfect of a scenario for you if you've lost Halladay. Don't wait, though. Oswalt's ownership in leagues is already up to 60 percent, a 26 percent hike since the news of his agreement. In the coming days, it should rise close to max ownership.

"This year, I feel great, throwing a lot trying to get my arm in shape," he said. "Hoping to throw three or four innings the first game and see where I'm at.

"I've been doing this 11 years. I know my body, I know where I'm at. ... I feel as healthy as ever."

Oswalt, someone who can win 10 games from the end of June on, is a must-own in all leagues immediately. The timing of a significant Halladay injury is never good, but at least this Oswalt addition to the player pool lessens the sting.

Now for the rest of this week's Waiver Wire ...

It is likely too late to join the Justin Smoak party. You should if you haven't already, but if you need some other options, here are five:

SP Homer Bailey, Reds

If you cannot wait on Oswalt, Bailey is the next best thing right now. Bailey is even more available, too, currently being owned in just 50 percent of leagues.

He will never be the bright talent his prospect star suggested, but he is a lot better than he is being given credit for right now. Bailey has quietly tossed four consecutive quality starts, winning his past three.

At age 26 and in his third season as a starter, Bailey is a legit breakout candidate. His hot streak makes him a viable pickup in all leagues.

OF Carlos Quentin, Padres

As we wait longer and longer for the likes of Ryan Howard (Achilles') and Chase Utley (knees) to return, we might have missed the fact Quentin is back. He is certainly due and his three homers through three games, including two Wednesday, make him a must-add in all formats.

This is a legit power hitter who can post 25 homers here on out. At just 72 percent ownership, his hot streaks like this quick one should make him a starter in anyone's lineup.

RP Tyler Clippard, Nationals

If you lost Henry Rodriguez -- due to his own ineffectiveness, not injury -- Clippard is the one you want. Sure, lefty Sean Burnett will be in the mix and Brad Lidge (side) will be coming off the DL, but Clippard is the most effective of the Nats relievers and he is right-handed. Burnett will be limited to save chances when a lefty is needed.

Clippard is available, at just 49 percent ownership, but his part-time closer status makes him more of a rotisserie option than a head-to-head one.

OF Michael Brantley, Indians

Speaking of rotisserie options, Brantley is finally giving the Indians some return for that CC Sabathia deal a few years ago. At age 25, Brantley is streaking and on a roughly 30-steal pace. That plateau makes him a must-own in all rotisserie formats.

His hot stretch makes him an option for deeper head-to-head leagues, too. At a mere 46 percent ownership, he is available in many of those formats and some rotisserie ones.

3B Chris Davis, Orioles

It is a marvel so few have bought into Davis' breakthrough this season. He is owned in just 71 percent of leagues, but his .309, 30-homer pace is worthy of consideration in all leagues. Sure, you have to deal with strikeouts and cold streaks, but as a player you shuffle in and out of your lineup in mixed leagues, you can catch the hot stretches more often than not.

It is all too easy to forget he is just 26-years old. Davis seemingly has been around forever, albeit mostly as a disappointment. Some don't even break through until 27.

You likely have missed out on the surprising resurgence of Kevin Millwood, but here are some other options to consider.

SP Francisco Liriano, Twins

The reports of his demise have not, actually, been exaggerated. But the tale of his recovery might not yet be believed by many.

Liriano returned to the Twins rotation with six shutout innings and nine strikeouts Wednesday. He is breathing, pitching and no longer embarrassing himself, his fantasy owners and this writer for blind faith. Liriano is still capable and in a contract year. You might be getting in on the ground floor of a great story.

RP Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners

Odds are his strikeout rate for a reliever has him owned in all leagues that use true middle men. You might be able to pick up a few saves with Brandon League's struggles having knocked him out of the closer's role.

Wilhelmsen is a middle reliever with a brief look for saves, and the way this season has gone for closers, you might as well take a shot here. At least he will contribute some strikeouts along the way.

OF Quintin Berry, Tigers

There is a new love affair with Berry, a long-time prospect that has only now made a dent in fantasy at age 27. Austin Jackson likely won't return from the DL when first eligible (Friday), and Berry has proved capable as a slap-hitting base-stealer in the short term.

AL-only rotisserie owners have to add this guy if they haven't already. Even off the bench once Jackson is back, Berry can make an impact with steals.

Further down the list, but still viable: SP Hector Noesi, Mariners; SP Drew Hutchinson, Blue Jays; 1B David Cooper, Blue Jays; DH Manny Ramirez, A's; and SP Garrett Richards, Angels.

Assuming Trevor Bauer is long gone -- he should be, even if you have to take goose eggs with him in your active lineup right now -- here are other options for you:

3B Todd Frazier, Reds

This might be the best-kept secret in fantasy right now. Frazier has taken over for Scott Rolen and might never give the job back.

Frazier is hitting .268 with five homers and 68 RBI and, most important, now in a full-time role. Frazier is a legit offensive weapon in a hitter's lineup and ballpark. Heck, he is an option for mixed-league owners and yet owned in just 13 percent of leagues.

RP Jeff Russell, Cubs

Carlos Marmol is back from the DL, but he is working in relief, and Rafael Dolis went from being the closer to being a minor-league middle reliever. Ouch. Russell deserves more love than he has been given, at just 15 percent ownership.

Russell is a lefty workhorse, the son of a former successful big-league closer, and has picked up a save and a relief victory in the past few days. Consider him the Cubs' closer of choice. He should have been selected over Dolis back when Marmol was demoted anyway.

3B/1B Jordan Pacheco, Rockies

Who in the world is this Pacheco clown? Where in the world is Nolan Arenado? Well, it turns out the 26-year-old Pacheco is enjoying a career breakthrough, allowing the Rockies to hold off from rushing their top third base prospect.

The knock on Pacheco is a lack of power -- just three homers in 363 Triple-A at-bats last year and just six homers in 468 at-bats in levels below that in 2010 -- but Arenado's three homers in 194 Double-A at-bats this year aren't going to do you any good either right now. Pacheco is at least hot, hitting singles, while available at just 17 percent ownership.

Further down the list, but still viable: OF Chris Coghlan, Marlins; OF Norichika Aoki, Brewers; 3B/OF Joe Mather, Cubs; SP Nate Eovaldi, Dodgers; and SS/3B/2B Joaquin Arias, Giants.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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